Mid-Victorian Diet, How Far Have We Come? | The Paleo Diet®
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

Try The Paleo Diet®!

Learn more. Get recipes & meal plans. See the science.

Mid-Victorian Diet, How Far Have We Come?

By William Lagakos, Ph.D., Writer
November 21, 2014
Mid-Victorian Diet, How Far Have We Come? image

Review of: An unsuitable and degraded diet? Part one: public health lessons from the mid-Victorian working class diet (Clayton and Rowbotham, 2014)

Context: Early Victorian era was plagued with starvation; this was corrected, technically, during the late Victorian era, but at what cost?

Dietary changes in the late 19th century in Britain reduced malnutrition and starvation-induced morbidity and mortality, but were far from optimal.

Refined flour, fresh and tinned meat, canned fruit preserved in heavy syrups, and evaporated milk became readily available to the public. In turn, sugar consumption increased exponentially.

Reduced starvation? The population at large became weaker and frailer, their teeth rotted, albeit they were less starved.

Previously, their diet included healthier foods like onions, cherries and apples, bones, dripping, offal, and meat scraps. The study authors inevitably concluded the malnourishment abated because the food got cheaper (less starvation), not healthier.

Another factor in reduced starvation was the fact that physical activity markedly declined in this period, so people simply needed fewer calories to survive. Combine that with sugar-laden confectionaries and otherwise junk food and you have a recipe for disaster.

In other words, they went from a Paleo-template to a Western diet in just a few years. The nutrient density, fibre, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids were diluted with processed grains and refined flour. And so a sad state of health was born: diets low in fresh fruits and veggies, and rich in high glycemic index foods like potato products, breakfast cereals, confectioneries, and refined baked foods. And low physical activity. They call it “Type B Malnutrition.” The cause? Sedentary lifestyle and cheap junk food… in other words, “not Paleo.”

History has repeated itself. Now that we are in a state where healthy food prices are comparable to junk food, we should be striving to get back to our dietary roots. A diet rich in whole foods, more similar to an early Victorian or otherwise Paleo template. That is a necessary prerequisite to curb the rising rate of non-communicable diseases. “It’s too expensive” is no longer a valid excuse.

Even More Articles For You

4 Outdoor Workouts to Skip the Gym Without the Guilt
Wherever your fitness leads you this summer, consider skipping the gym and getting outside. Reap the benefits and give these great outdoor workouts a try.
By Stephanie Vuolo
Paleo-Inspired New England Gingerbread Cookies
Whip up these healthier-for-you New England gingerbread cookies made without any wheat, refined sugar, or gluten for a Paleo-inspired treat! 
By Jess Case
Diabetes: Is it safe for The Paleo Diet?
Learn if the Paleo Diet is safe for men & women with diabetes. Visit The Paleo Diet® for Paleo recipes, healthy meal plans, quick tips & more.
By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark J. Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.